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Back in New England: D2R2
I grew up riding my BMX bike on fire roads and trails in New England which quickly turned into mountain biking. Now, I don't know if you know this, but there is an old tradition among mountain bikers of mocking roadie counterparts. It is not nice, sure, but it is mostly in jest and for years I've joined in the fun taking jabs at my skinny tire riding buddies with a nudge, wink and a chuckle. Then I moved to Portland, Oregon.
There is some amazing mountain biking in the State of Oregon, none of which is in Portland. I had ridden road bikes before, but it became more natural when I moved to a place where you could not easily ride to the trails. It wasn't my favorite riding to do, but it was still riding and it was challenging. Before long I started riding with Ira Ryan and Greg Johnson and the rest of the crew that became the Rapha Continental. They beat the living hell out of me.
Luckily these guys really like to ride on gravel and dirt roads. When a ride was over and we were drinking our recovery beers it was the gravel sections that we replayed. “Man, it was tough getting traction climbing on the dusty stuff.” “Did you see me almost eat it through that washboard?” I'd say “That was almost as much fun as mountain biking.”
Now, five years and thousands of road miles later I have found myself back in New England riding The D2R2 with my Continental buddies. The second D and the first R stand for Dirt and Road. 90% dirt and gravel for 115 miles. Sounds like my kind of ride. I had no idea. Here I was, 50 miles from where I grew up. The terrain, scenery, weather and even the people were so familiar. I was home. I was riding a bike. Out West the climbs are long and grueling. This was different. Short, painful climbs and quick twisty descents. Fun right off the bat. There was a point, about halfway through where I wasn't sure if I'd make it, but I kept my pace reasonable and started having fun again.
By the time we finished I'd had a revelation. You see, when I was a kid I rode that BMX bike everywhere, aspired to race, but there wasn't a nearby track. I loved the dirt and sought it out, but when it came down to it we were actually riding on the road — road riding. Doing hot laps around the neighborhood. Racing to and from the town swimming pool five miles away. Everywhere we went, we owned the road. So, after 20 years of riding mountain bikes and poking fun at those who didn't it took a trip back home and a road ride to realize that my first love was simply riding bikes.
When we rolled into the finish tired, dirty and satisfied, Jeremy turned to me and said “Great job today, man. We may just make a roadie out of you yet.” Thanks JD, but you don't need to. Turns out I've been one since I was a kid.
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